April 10, 2021

Interdisciplinary Discourse

Forum for KU Academics

Different Parvas in Nepali History

Eak Prasad Duwadi
Many parvas[1] have occurred in the Nepali History in the last two centuries. They have their own significance (s) for their own times. In this article I have tried to introduce a few incidents related to the Rana Oligarchy. Among these some were the causes for the beginning of the regime, whereas others acted as the boomerang. The incidents I venture to write about are Kotparva (1903 Ashwin 2), Bhandarkhalparva (1903 Kartik 1), Alauparva (1904 Shrawan), 1938 Parva, 1942 Parva, Makai Parva, Library Parva. I have given short descriptions of each hereby.
Dawn of Ranarchy
Kanchhi rani (the second queen) summoned Mathvar Singh Thapa to Nepal and made him the PM to get fulfill her covert intentions. The British were alerted as Thapa was anti-British. East india Company wanted such person in the power who would be very loyal to them. They found Jung Br as such. Mathvar Singh who was Jung Br’s maternal uncle soon became unpopular among all—king, queen, Pandeys and Gagan Singh Khawas. As the result in 1903 B. S. Jetha 2 night, Mathvar Singh Thapa was summoned in the queen’s palace and murdered by Jung Bahadur.
Kanchhi Rani had trust on Jung Br and Gagan Singh, but the king did not trust Jung Br. After the assassination of Mathvar Singh Thapa, Fatte Singh Chautariya was made the PM. But Gagan Singh was made powerful giving him the portfolios of Foreign affairs and public Administration. Gagan Singh was also anti-British Raj. So with the help of overambitious Jung Br. British conspired to finish Gagan Singh. So on Aswin 1, 1903 Lal Jha shot Gagan Singh dead in his pooja room. 
Gagan Singh’s death created tremors in the palace. However, JB could not get the power. The royal couple wanted to get the investigation done on this incident and punish the culprit. For this JB suggested them to gather all courtiers and interrogate them. Neither the queen nor the king understood JB’s vested interest. So in Aswin 2, 1903 night, all courtiers and employees were called in to the Kot. By seeing the plot, the king escaped from the scene. When Abhiman Singh Basnyat tried to escape, he was killed. Then JB’s supporters killed everyone present there. This massacre in the history of Nepal is known as Kotparva. After this, queen Rajyalaxmi made JB the PM. 
Red Carpeting Ranarchy
After becoming the PM, JB and Rajyalaxmi had differences as each of them wanted to usurp power. Her plan was to make her own son the next king; she purposed the same to JB. JB was determined to sideline the queen from his path. The queen understood that JB was never going to execute her plans as he was doing the other way. As the power had shifted to JB after Kotparva, the king and the queen even began to feel insecure. The queen wanted to eliminate her enemy. Therefore, she made a plan for it. Bajir Singh, Gagan Singh’s son himself wanted to take revenge on his father’s murderer/s. he took the responsibility of killing JB. They planned to invite JB in the Bhandarkhal and kill him there. However, as here were JB’s spies inside the palace, he had already acquired the queen’s secret plan. Interestingly, it was the queen’s tactic, but JB took the advantage. JB and his men finished all remaining opponents.
After Bhandarkhal Parva, the queen became very weak. JB blamed the queen for being responsible for all killings in Nepal. Remaining power was transformed to JB. The queen was made go in exile to Kashi. Both the king and the queen fled to Kashi. In this way, JB took all powers and made Surendra the king of Nepal.
Handing all power to Surendra, King Rajendra with his two sons, Ranendra and Birendra left Nepal having felt unsafe here. However, he wanted to return to Kathmandu in 3 month’s time. JB could not stop them because of the possible mutiny in his army and the public support, so he sent one of his cousins, Khadka Br to India as his messenger.
In Kashi the king designed to regain power. Chautariya Guruprasad Shah and Rang Nath Pandey were his advisors. Acooding to the plan the king set out from India. When he arrived at Sugauli, his supporters joined him. With 16000 men he moved towards Alau at Birgunj. Then, Khadga Br reported everything to JB. Leaflets which carried messages to the Nepali Army by the king were seized in Kathmandu. As JB was very clever, he made all army men to take oath from incumbent king Surendra to stop them joining the former king. Humble soldiers did not know JB’s conspiracy. When JB attacked Alau his mission was a success. Many of king Rajendra’s supporters were killed in that attack and the remaining fled. Rajendra was imprisoned and blind-folded in Bhaktapur Durbar. Knowing the king’s design to escape from there, JB transferred him to Hanuman Dhoka where he died in 1938. 
Feuds among Ranas
After the death of king Surendra, 6 year old Prithvi Bikram ascended to the throne. Prince Narendra Bir Bikram Shah plotted against Ranodip, Dhir Shamsher, and his sons by calling them in a feast. As just before 11 hours of the execution of the plan, one of the conspirators, Uttardhowj Khawas (Gagan Singh’s grandson) disclosed the plot to Dhir Shamser. Later several courtiers were perished and Narendra was imprisoned in Chunar jail. Consequently, Dhir Shamsher became more powerful.
Shift of Reign from Bahadurs to Shumshers
An army troop was going to take part in Rawalpindi under the command of Bir Shamsher in 1942. Just one day before going there, Bir Shamsher got his brothers to shoot his uncle Ranodip dead .Then JB’s son Jagat Jung was also killed. Subsequently, Jung family was displaced from the ruling chain. Those who were alive left the country in exile. After this incident, Bir Shamsher’s kinsmen ruled Nepal for 59 years. This incident strengthened the Rana oligarchy.
Convergence against Ranarchy
In 1977 B. S. an employee of Kaushir Adda Krishna Lal Adhikari wrote and published 1000 copies of a book, Makai ko Kheti. In his book he stated, “We prefer the foreign dog to the native, but native dog come more useful than the foreign one”. Chandra Shamsher’s Pundits, Ramhari Adhikari and Bhojraj Kafle blamed Adhikari claiming that it was an irony for then Shree Tin Chandra Shamsher. Then, Krishnalal was arrested in the charge of treachery, and decided for a 9 year imprisonment. However, in case he returned all 1000 copies, the punishment could lessen to 6 year only. He returned 999 but one. Before the time was over, he died in the jail. The duo who interpreted Makai ko Kheti got a reward of Rs. 1000 each.
Tying bells on the Cat’s Neck
In Bhim Shamsher’s tenure (1986/87 B. S. ), some charismatic and energetic youths were campaigning for opening a library in Kathmandu. They wanted to bring awareness among Nepalis who were subconscious against Rana oligarchy. However, one of the members, Ramchandra Adhikari disclosed the mission of that campaign. Therefore, those 45 involved youths including Laxmi Prasad Devkota were arrested and charged Rs. 100 each. Out of the sum, half was rewarded Adhikari for his help. This incident is known as Library Parva.
Each parva was the milestone of that time as they were the harbinger of the changes destined to occur. Interestingly, first ones facilitated to Ranarchy in Nepal, but later ones became Damocles’ Sword to those rulers. 
Maskey, T. (1999). Nepal Parichaya (9th ed.). Kathmandu: Jara.

Shah, S. B. (1978-80). Rana prime ministers and their role of succession. Voice of History , 4 (5), 3.

Sharma, D. (1991). Modern Nepal’s History. Kathmandu: Dipak Press.

Shrestha, H. (1999). Nepal Parichaya. Kathmandu: M. K.

[1] Key incidents
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